Embracing Fall with Joy & Thanksgiving!

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This past month has been full of wonderful surprises and blessings as we push through to the end of the fall semester.  Our oldest has been doing great on his tests, even completing two comprehensive science tests that spanned 4 pages long each!  His grades were fine when he was in public school, but he learns even more complex details for each subject now, and his grades are still averaging out to all A’s with the harder, more complex material!

There’s just no comparison to how much better homeschooling has been as far as actual learning goes.  We’re beyond elated!!!

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And we still love our weekly outings getting to take in the beauty of Texas.  It really is so incredibly beautiful if you know how to seek it out.  I could not believe the incredible fall colors in these pictures (and these are not edited, this is 100% as much as the camera lens could capture – and even more perfect in person)!

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When our kids come back from these outings, I can sense the change in them immediately ❤ they’re calmer, happier, and have this overall sense of well-being as they relax on the car ride home.  They also seem to have a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the colors of nature as we’re driving home!  The effects of being surrounded by so much beauty are long-lasting. 😀  I just love it!

I’m so grateful that with the freedom of homeschooling, things like this are doable.

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The ducks, turtles, and egrets around made it even more exciting for them.

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Love having my mom on these trips in the mornings!  She used to paint, so seeing all this beauty in nature really touches her heart, too ❤  And the kids just love being with her – she’s like a real life Mary Poppins in heart and attitude!!!

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Cuties ❤

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They have so many places to just sit and stare at the trees reflected on the water.

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One of my favorite pictures (above), a wooden dragonfly hovering over the still and peaceful water.

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Our boys love hopping over this garden wall.

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Our oldest tried to teach his brother how to play chess, while we just sat there and talked as a couple of hours passed by.  It was so peaceful and relaxing… definitely a luxurious November day.  I do wish we had snow, but then it wouldn’t be as easy to go out and enjoy days like this for as long as we’re able to.

Here’s a link to an article I read (and loved) recently:

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

From the article,
“Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain. ….

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The article goes on to talk about the mysterious power of prayer… give the article a look for some gratitude inspiration!

Letter from Dr. Laura’s Listener on Envy

Dear Dr. Laura,

I think your topic about comparing yourself to others is great. I think we all do it, and it’s very difficult to avoid. It can certainly be destructive. Envy is not one of the deadly sins for no reason. Coveting other people’s spouses or possessions has certainly led to the downfall of many. I am constantly on the watch for that type of thing in my life. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

I do think there can be a positive side of this. If you know someone who has something great going for them, it’s natural to compare yourself. But if you’re coming up short, being envious and petty is not how to handle it. If you can figure out what they are doing which caused them to have such a great situation, you can earn that for yourself.

I get told all the time it’s unfair to judge the marriages of the people around me as compared to mine. To a certain extent that is true. But sometimes that statement annoys me. My husband and I are an unusually good match. I think it’s rare to find a partner who clicks as well as my husband and I do.

The thing is, I am as female as the next woman. There are days where I want to be snotty just because I feel like it. The difference is I choose not to do it (and when I do, I apologize and try to avoid it in the future). We don’t agree on everything, and we have habits that annoy each other. The difference between my marriage, and the marriage of many of my friends, is we CHOOSE NOT TO FIGHT. It’s a choice every single day that we are not going to make each other’s lives hell for the sake of saying we “won”. When you alienate your spouse, you didn’t win any damn thing, in fact, you lost more than your spouse did.

Instead of saying my husband and I are unnaturally in sync with each other, if more people asked “How do you guys get along so well?” – they would see how they too could get along. When I find someone with an attribute I admire, I do compare myself. When I come up short, as I often do, I try to figure out what they are doing that gave them the attribute. Then I do the WORK to earn the right to call that quality mine. None of the people we look up to got where they are without work. They all had to decide what they wanted to be and work hard to get there. The only good reason to ever compare ourselves to someone, is when we are willing to do the work to change ourselves for the better. Otherwise, it’s just a form of torture.

Kristy

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I love this letter, it’s what I’ve been saying for years about how actively pursuing an excellent marriage gives you a much greater likelihood of achieving an excellent marriage!  It’s always bothered me that friends or family would say we are just well-matched.  Yes, I guess it’s true, BUT I’m a lot like this letter writer in that I just don’t fight with him about ridiculous things (that other people complain publicly about with their spouses).

My husband and I have been married for over 12 years now, and even through the different trials of life, the years have been astonishingly easy together. We’ve had what I would describe as an unusually blissful marriage. Whenever I mention our past trials, I always feel like I need to qualify that statement with explanation that they weren’t major things inside our relationship that drove us apart from each other, or anything resembling ugly fighting between us. These were difficult and profound outside trials (things like being extremely poor in our early years,  getting married in college and working multiple jobs (managing a good marriage in the midst of graduating and working)…  having a premature baby (no one seems to understand how hard that is, until it happens to them personally), managing hostile family members, postpartum depression, etc.). Nothing dramatic between us, but rather things that we faced together.

What has always surprised me has been knowing other couples who went through similar trials, and ended up divorcing because of them.  What drove us together we’re the same things that drove them apart.

When reading this letter, it’s easy to look back on those hard times and see why we fared so well – we didn’t incessantly attack each other… which would have made our trials infinitely harder.

Our love for each other and willingness to make each other’s lives easier, has thankfully saved our marriage, and made us a much stronger couple in order to face the outside forces we have, and still retain marital happiness.  We have a playful happiness coupled with a deep joy that we truly are together in this world as a team.  And we make such a great team! ❤

If you’re reading this and coming from the other side (and wanting a better relationship), maybe try to look at your spouse as you would a best friend and lover – someone who was meant to be by your side through everything.  Perspective and gratitude solves a lot of problems, especially the immaturity of making mountains out of molehills 😉

 

Why Beautiful Things Makes Us Happy

I’ve always loved trying to defend why beauty matters… from tastefully creating an aesthetic environment in one’s home, to simple actions such as making your bed everyday, symmetrical beauty designed with order, brings us peace and happiness at a chemical level response!

This is my fourth pregnancy, and the sickness and exhaustion has been much more than any of the prior pregnancies, so cleaning in the early months has been especially difficult.  It’s like we were thrust into survival mode, where only the bare minimum was done, but thankfully all that’s over now (praise God 😀 ) and I’m finally getting back up to speed.  There’s just nothing more pleasant, inviting, and peaceful than a home that is well-managed and tidy.  Clean floors are like my holy grail of perpetual achievement (LOL), and although it’s a simple task and really shouldn’t be so important, it feels like heaven just knowing my floors are 100% clean.  It does help that this time, in very early pregnancy, before the crazy sickness really kicked in, I did an intense deep clean of everything, including the tile grout – and that helped to kind of off-set the coming months thankfully from needing too much intense care and correction.

On the physical front of defending beauty, I’m all in!  I think physical beauty is not to be necessarily considered vain, but that it’s also important in its own right, especially if you’re married.  I’ve written before on how it impacts your husband in several ways here, as well as how the Christian culture devalues it.  I’m sure it does sound vain though to say you make it one of your priorities 😉 but I do try….  Thankfully with pregnancy, women already are given a certain, well-documented, “glow.”  Their breasts also grow a couple of sizes, and their hair grows faster and thicker – it’s great for maintaining your mane!  You may not be able to use facial products that combat aging, or exercise at the same intensity, but there’s a lot naturally that happens that can make you feel beautiful, even when pretty darn ill.

But back to the topic of beauty in general.  In the female form, keeping in shape, eating foods that aid your body, instead of the laced-with-poison options that freely abound, actually does contribute to the delay of the aging process, and therefore, in a way, preserving the natural beauty of youth.  Of course you can’t preserve it completely, or even for very long, but it’s nice to be able to, “age well,” especially forgoing any attempts to un-naturalize yourself with injections of Botox, etc.

On the topic of food causing the destruction of natural beauty, in other words, things we’re not supposed to ingest (but seem to be in a lot of food/dyes, etc.) cause free radicals (molecules that have been, “radicalized,” and only have 1 electron, making them extremely unstable) which go on to cause damage to surrounding areas in your body.  Enough damage causes cancerous cells that are usually nipped in the bud early if your body gets enough sleep and you have enough anti-oxidants to neutralize those highly charged 1-electron molecules.  But if it’s too much damage over time, and you don’t get enough sleep and self-care, the damage builds up and creates wrinkles/aging skin at best, and disease or cancer at worst.  Good self-care, lots of sunscreen of big hats when out in the sun, eating and applying anti-oxidants really do a lot to help when they’re all done consistently.  Even exercise itself has been proven to repair the ends of your telomeres (the caps of your chromosomes that protect them from damage!), which means that exercise itself is a powerful anti-ager!!  Don’t neglect it for long, there’s just so much that benefits from it!

On art that is produced, I’ve always had a fascination with it that I can attribute to my parents ❤  We’re a family of artists, that goes back generations mainly found on my mother’s side, but somewhat on my dad’s maternal side as well.  Both of my mother’s paternal and maternal families had a propensity for creating and appreciating art, with her paternal side including the Cowpokes creator ❤ , and her maternal side getting their artistic abilities from their Polish roots (I think, at least).  The poles weren’t really good at warfare, financial success, or anything very note-worthy,. but they did produce some of the world’s best artists, musicians (loved Frederic Chopin when I was growing up! And then of course the Goo Goo Dolls LOL), and actors/actresses.  Maybe I’m biased (obviously), but it also seems Polish people, and the surrounding Eastern European countries, seem to produce some of the most beautiful men and women (particularly women)!

Now… off to eat some anti-oxidants and make our space more beautiful for our children ❤

Wife Wants to Know – Why is Passionate Sex is so Important to Men?

I received an email from a wife who complained about how I’ve written here, and elsewhere she’s seen in comments, that just offering sex is not enough.

If the wife is at least not turning down her husband, then she’s technically meeting his needs, is what the wife argued.  I understood what she was talking about was what is commonly called, “duty sex.”  Duty sex can be good, if the wife actually gets into it and is passionate and gives her husband good, loving sex, but that wasn’t what she was talking about.  Just doing it should be good enough for a husband, because he’s still getting his need for sex met.

I’ve never – even when I was in my teens and a virgin until my husband, believed that men didn’t need passionate, crazy wonderful sex from their wives.  It’s what my mom taught me, even down to what women should wear regarding sexy/beautiful underwear and lingerie for their husbands.

I was plainly taught it’s selfish not to wear nice underwear for your husband to see, or to hide your naked body from him, etc.  Yes, you can teach virgin daughters all these things without them getting into trouble.  My mom did, and I’m planning on teaching my daughter all of the same things about sex, men, and relationships as well.

I went into marriage with clear expectations of what 99% of men would want and be very very happy with, and it made things (in my opinion) probably a million times easier because the more passionate sex a couple has in marriage, the closer they feel and are in every single way!

“But what about in times of pain or pregnancy?  Shouldn’t there be caveats as to a wife just, “faking,” it or doing it just so that her husband has his needs met?  Doesn’t SHE also have needs?!?! You only care about men’s needs it sounds like.”

I’ve gotten this before, usually in comments here or at other places.  Obviously if a wife is in physical pain due to just having had a child, or some other medical problem in her nether regions, then normal sex won’t work.  But there are other ways to be sensual/sexual with your husband – sex or pleasing each other, doesn’t have to be off the table completely.  And a good marriage (a good wife) will find ways to still have fun, be funny, or enjoy her husband (herself) in other ways.

I DO NOT believe it is good, or helpful, for a wife to just offer up passionless duty sex or, “star fish,” sex.

I think that kind of sex kills the soul of the man whose having sex with you… he’d rather be doing anything else than having sex with a woman who he clearly can tell isn’t into him.  You may feel good about yourself because you tell yourself you’re, “meeting his needs,” but a man’s sexual needs usually go much deeper than just the physical when it’s his wife.  He wants a real connection that can only happen when there’s passion and love there.

When a wife only offers duty sex, or makes her husband feel bad for wanting sex, she’s doing more harm than good – she isn’t doing him any favors.

We’ve been married over 12 years now, so this is a topic I understand and have had to work around myself; I’m not talking from inexperience here.  Right now the nausea during this pregnancy is and has been, SO INTENSE that if I don’t remember to take my medicine, I start violently vomiting by noon and it gets worse during the evening.  BUT even with the strong medicine they prescribed me for the nausea, the horrible feeling of nausea hasn’t gone away yet for over 6 weeks!  We still have lots of sex, we just try to plan it for when it’s possible, and my husband distracts me from the nausea with his charm 😀 ❤   I’ve found that I need the sex and the closeness it brings us afterward.  Amazingly, the nausea actually disappears when we’re having sex, so it’s like God’s granting us that time to connect as a couple, and we need it so much!  If I let the nausea get in the way and miss a couple of days of experiencing him, I feel sad, lonely and a little depressed.

In other words, even if you have a situation where it’s less than ideal, you can still either find ways to connect sexually, or just force yourself to connect anyway and try to enjoy it, because having sex/being sexual with your husband is also meeting YOUR needs as well.

Hopefully that helps clear up my position on duty sex or sacrificial sex.

No, it’s not enough to just, “do it,” you need to have your heart in it also.  It’s the same as what God wants of us, see below from God’s Holy Word, 

 

“I WANT YOU TO SHOW LOVE

NOT OFFER SACRIFICES.

I WANT YOU TO KNOW ME

MORE THAN I WANT BURNT OFFERINGS.”

HOSEA 6:6

Email Questions: Resentment, Postpartum Depression, & Happiness?

I received an email from a reader after writing the post containing my short notes on Sofia Tolstoy and her diary, expressing her conviction she felt when reading how she acted.

I read your post in my email the other day and felt like you were a fly on our wall.  I don’t want to feel angry at my husband for the little things in life, or be in what you called, “chronic unhappiness.”  You hit the nail on the head when you talked about someone wanting to play the victim.  I think part of why I feel so much resentment toward everyone in our house is because it’s harder to choose joy when things aren’t going as planned.  It feels good to complain and get sympathy, even though I don’t want to complain about my husband.  I think it can be an addiction because they give you attention if you have something to complain about, which then makes you feel good and you repeat the cycle.

It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even want to hear my complaints anymore, and we fight more than ever.  I’m always the killjoy, and I end up going into a rage at our kids.  

I know I’m hurting our family, but how can I stop this?  How can I be more joyful?

I already emailed back asking questions and such, but I thought this was a good starting point for a public discussion since maybe other women thought the same way but didn’t want to write in.  I think… and this really is just my opinion based on what has worked for me in my own life… that the real answer to this would be twofold: humility and gratitude.  I know that sounds so simple, but it is just profoundly true in almost every case.  Even if everything and nothing is working out, one can always choose to be grateful for something positive.

If your husband is basically a good man, a hard worker, etc. why not just choose to be grateful for each and every good thing in your life?  In other words, why allow yourself to dwell on resentful feelings?  Even if he tends toward being angry and grouchy (I’ve seen couples like this), you can still find your own happiness and joy in life that can positively affect your children.  Dennis Prager loves to say that unhappy people often find a happy person to latch themselves on to, and then they make them pretty miserable.  It’s best for happy people to marry other happy people, but because people are human and make BIG mistakes, that doesn’t always happen.  And unhappy people are usually smart enough not to marry another unhappy person lol.

I married another generally happy person, he’s easy to please and has the best demeanor I could have asked for.  Certain situations can make him more broody or annoyed, especially when tired or if our kids are really acting up, but personally I love he has an edge or, “dark,” side… it makes for more flirtation ❤

But if you married a man who is chronically unhappy, we’re not in the day and age where couples were kept carefully away from each other due to purity preservation, so there’s a big chance you saw the red flags but pursued them anyway.  Own your choice and try to make the best of it, knowing it may be harder.  I’m not saying it sounds easy, it looks like the cross someone may have to bear for life, but hopefully this helps with the question of, “well, what if my spouse just isn’t a happy person?”  To a large degree, you can still control your own happiness, something Stingray always brought up at her blog.

I bring this up because the reader pointed out that Leo Tolstoy sounded like a hard man to live with as an excuse to why Sofia was so crazy.  I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg!  Was he difficult because she was so awful to him from the get-go?  Would he not have been kinder to a more pleasant and simply happier wife?  Remember, he came to her open-hearted, with love and humility in wanting her to accept him as he was, sins and all, and then she chose to use his sexual past as a perpetual stick to beat him with!  I’ve seen men like that, who started out happy, and are happy around everyone else, but when around their wives they turn bitter, angry and hurtful in their comments… and the horrible thing is that those women often brought all that on themselves starting from very early on in their marriage.  It really is a thing, that you can destroy your husband’s love for you.

Sooner or later,

everyone will sit down to a banquet

of their own consequences.

***

And I should say that it’s important to understand feeling negative emotions is ok – it’s natural and normal and you can say to yourself, “Ok, I feel hurt/angry/upset/resentful/envious, but then work through those feelings and get to the bottom of why you’re feeling a certain way.  Ultimately, I believe one works through those feelings with God healing them over time, I don’t think there are any, “quick fixes,” to heart issues that have invaded one’s character to become who they are now.  And that’s what I think happens… negative emotions CAN become addicting, and if you continually give in to them, let them have their way dictating how you behave, then you allow them to shape your character.

Why Humility?

Because when you’re humble, you’re more gracious and understand no one deserves anything in life ❤ everything is a gift, and when you see things that way, everything about you changes.

Resentment can easily happen when a wife starts to feel self-righteous and more Christian in comparison with her husband.  It’s ironic because resentment toward someone else only shows that we have a problem in our *own* hearts, and really has very little to do with our husband.  In other words, resentment is the first sign that we’re NOT doing well spiritually, that we have a problem that only we can address.  But the only way someone will admit this to themselves is if they have humility.  Humility takes the focus off of the other person, and places it on what we can do to make things better, because it forces us to look at ourselves realistically, resentment included.

Sofia Tolstoy, for all her claiming she was a self-sacrificing Christian, didn’t have the humility to admit she was spiritually messed up!  Humility accepts a person’s imperfections or, “humanness,” as I’d call it – it allows a person to be grouchy or make mistakes and can handle it in a loving way.  And yes I’ve walked this walk, so I know it can be done 🙂 .  I’ve also failed at it with other people because I’m human.  Approaching your marriage with humility does a lot in the way of receiving back kindness and love in thanks for your being gracious and loving toward your husband.

This kind of self-righteousness stemming from resentment is especially true in women who play the martyr of the family, though.  The reader was right that it does feel good in a way to have people pity you, or pay attention to you when you are sick/ill/depressed, etc.  Wanting a pity party can be a daily or weekly addiction though.  There are some women out there who live for when they’re sick, because they like the attention it brings from their husband or children – that isn’t healthy!  It’s probably a mental illness to seek out being a victim just to receive attention.

However, if you have real grief over something valid, having what looks like a pity party where friends or family listen to you and support you through your grief is totally normal.  I know there are people out there who like to claim women like me don’t allow women to feel negative emotions or grieve properly, etc. but I’ve never advised that.  What I do promote is women doing what I do, and taking responsibility for their own health and happiness in life, and not staying in a victim mentality or depressive state.  Simply because you won’t heal that way, and no one wins.

I don’t believe depression is sinful or anything like that, but allowing yourself to stay there, especially for months (or decades in Sofia Tolstoy’s case), starts to become a choice, and actions (choosing not to get help for the sake of at least your children) have consequences you may not intend.  The reader also asked if I’ve ever felt like this, or felt depressed for long periods of time, and yes, I definitely have unfortunately experienced scary level depression a couple of times.

The one I’ll focus on just because it makes more sense with motherhood and being a wife and such, was when we had our firstborn.  It was a scary situation with our son coming a month early due to the work-related stress we were under.  We worked together for an apartment complex and our boss was very clear she wanted a different couple, which was totally her choice, but it left us feeling VERY worried we’d lose our job and apartment since the job came with a free apartment.  We were young so I admit this wasn’t the best or wisest set up – we should have stepped down when we realized she wanted a couple with more time.  But instead we stayed and just tried harder, going far above and beyond to try to keep her happy, something that wasn’t possible lol, and this, at least, is what my doctor believed may have caused my amniotic sac to start leaking fluid into my body.  It took a few days in the hospital for the doctors to figure out what was wrong and to start and stop induction, and it finally culminated in an emergency c-section.  It was a stressful time, and our son stayed in NICU for a short week, but even with all that, I felt positive and was settling in to motherhood as best I could.

A couple of months after I had our son, one of my husband’s relatives began harassing him through angry text messages for hours upon hours on one of his off-days when we were out spending time together with the baby.  It was about something minuscule and out of the blue, but it felt like a deluge of rage and anger poured out on us and we couldn’t believe it was happening.  We weren’t even getting any sleep at night, and we were about to start a full schedule of college again, and still working for our demanding boss (there was no maternity break), so to say we were even more stressed to be on the receiving end of her angry tirades all day is an understatement.  Looking back in hindsight, I see us being so naive and young, in our early twenties, and can’t believe a woman who was almost 50 was allowing herself to harass us for hours on end when we had a newborn to take care of.

It’s interesting how negative emotions are contagious, even though my husband was forced to set boundaries with his relative, it still affected both of us for awhile… and for me, knowing this relative had played the victim to the rest of his family and gotten more relatives angry at us for my husband setting boundaries with her, I think caused me to slip into what became postpartum depression.

Why Gratitude?

The postpartum depression was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.  And thank God, I’ve never experienced it with any of our other babies, which leads me to believe this one extremely hurtful and emotional event probably caused it somehow.  I’m a naturally optimistic and happy person, but it was the worst timing to be harassed for hours a day with angry, hurtful words when my hormones were still very out of whack.  The depression lasted for months and was overwhelming and very very dark.  It felt as if the sky was always, “gray,” so to speak.  The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that caused me to snap out of it was my husband confronting me when I was in a super negative self-pity mode (months later).  Somewhere in that timeframe, I had become settled into depression and complaining and only focusing on the bad things in the not so distant past… all the time.  He finally had enough, and was able to make me, “see,” and acknowledge all the good things that were still happening, and how even in a horrible situation, God took such great care with us and provided for us continually.  And it was true!!!  We ended up losing our apartment job (and our apartment), which was inevitable, and having to move with an infant, having to drop several college classes even though it was my last semester before graduating, which meant I’d have to postpone graduation (this felt like such a big deal at the time lol), and was too much for me psychologically.  I would go into this, “Woe is me,” drama when we were already well past it, and it thankfully came to a point where he just wouldn’t have it.

Everything was so bleak in my depressive state, I couldn’t see ANY goodness that had already come out of it, or God’s hand in it until my husband got me to stop wallowing in self-pity and to open my eyes.  And once he did open my eyes to all the goodness I wasn’t seeing, I was able to see that through it all, everything had worked out perfectly.  We were able to afford an apartment that was a two-story town-home with more room for the new baby, and closer to my husband’s job and to our school!  It felt like a beautiful little house and suddenly, after being snapped out of the self-pity mode, I enjoyed decorating it with our pictures.  We no longer worked for a woman who was so hard to please and who constantly held the threat of firing us over our heads 😀 and dropping some of the courses allowed me more time to bond with our baby.  It was almost as though we needed to go through those trials so that we could come to a place of peace and rest.

Gratitude was the cure, as well as being forced to admit I was acting ridiculous by still focusing on the terrible things lonnnng after they’d passed and God had already delivered us.  I wouldn’t have come to that place without him confronting and correcting my attitude of resentment and depression toward all that had happened.

Being consciously grateful for how God got us through those trials, how He was able to keep our marriage strong and together, gave me inspiration to live with happiness and joy.  I knew what it was like to feel depressed and anxious and not see anything good, and choosing to be thankful felt a million times more healthy and beneficial to everyone in our house!  Just being a thankful person makes one a joyful person… it’s mysterious in that way.

So to wrap this response up, I believe that no matter our circumstances, when we are Christian we are able to overcome things like depression, anxiety, loss of purpose, or resentment.

If you’re ever tempted to complain about your husband, when you know he’s really a great man and good father, try checking if your heart is coming from a place of humility first, and then gratitude for everything that IS going right.  I believe it will make a world of difference for you.

Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

***

In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

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That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

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Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

….

So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: God’s Word Revives Us Daily

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We’ve been in such a busy season recently, that I’ve again come to be so grateful for having an established morning quiet time reading God’s Word and connecting to His grace.  We still have a very packed schedule, even though with homeschooling there is lots of relaxing time and outside, unstructured play… if I had to pinpoint it, the most strenuous part of our day is our workout routine (lol).  Yesterday my husband and I ran 6 miles (!!!), so I’m not kidding when I say it is intense and somewhat brutal.  So I need the peace and replenishment of morning quiet time ❤

There is something so strange and powerful that I feel when I make these morning quiet times a priority in my life.  I was reflecting as I was reading yesterday morning, yet again with our little daughter up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sitting right next me reading along with her baby Bible book as well, just how wonderful it is to do this practice.

I came across Psalm 19 –

“The instruction from the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,

making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

making the heart glad;

the commandment of the Lord is radiant,

making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold;

and sweeter than honey -than honey dripping from the comb.

In addition, Your servant (me) is warned by them;

there is great reward in keeping them.”  Psalm 19:7-11 CSB

No wonder I’m a forever optimist!!! 😀  Look at what happens to a person when they make the time to read God’s Word with an open heart and understanding in the morning!

Let me break down all those words again in a list.  God’s Word is:

  • Perfect
  • Trustworthy
  • Right
  • Radiant
  • Pure
  • Reliable
  • Righteous
  • Rewarding

And here is how we are told it effects us when we read it:

  • Revives our soul
  • Makes us wise
  • Makes the heart glad!
  • Makes the eyes light up!
  • Gives us good warnings
  • Gives us reward in keeping His ways

Wow, right!?!?!  That is what I feel though when I make time in the morning.  I can testify that all these things talked about in Psalm 19 are true; it’s why I’ve tried to always guard this time, even when we have babies still not sleeping through the night.  It’s almost crucial to my mental strength, as you can see, His Word has the power to renew one’s faith and optimism, and it renews daily!

And… can I just say… these are MORNING words in my opinion 🙂 .  “Reviving the soul,” and, “making the heart glad,” and “making the eyes light up,” these really do sound like a daily morning renewal before one tackles their day.

And what better time to get your replenishment and renewal of faith and optimism, “making your heart glad,” and your “eyes light up,” than in the morning? 😀  It’s like your spiritual cup of coffee (jk… but seriously), just like I couldn’t imagine going without that stimulant in my morning routine, I know how I feel when I bypass this practice because I’ve slept in (been lazy) or just too busy to make the time for it (refusing to meet with God even though I could have).

All this is not to say that you can’t also read it at night and feel relief after a terrible day – that is true also – but I’ve found it to be better to do what Jesus did, and get up early in the morning to devote the first fruits of your day to Him.  But God’s Word is powerful and can’t be “boxed,” in, hence why I believe this is also true when one reads it at night.  David has many Psalms where he meditated on God’s Word in the morning AND at night, but here is main morning one that convicts me,

IN THE MORNING, oh Lord,

You hear my voice;

IN THE MORNING,

I lay my requests before You, and wait in expectation.”

Psalm 5:3

Here is what I wrote in an older post on this topic… it’s interesting to look back and see what I was describing to be found so clear in this passage of Psalm 19, again confirming what I was trying to say.  From here

Rising Early … with babies?

Throughout the years of our marriage, even with having multiple children – babies nursing at all times of the night, I still find that waking up early (5am or 5:30am) to spend that quiet time with God is so crucial to my faith longterm – and it impacts my entire day!  I’m just not the same without it.  He literally changes my perspective and helps me deal with the day ahead with a much better attitude.  I’m definitely not perfect or always want to follow through with this goal.  There are some times when I’m not able to get up early, but I do notice a difference in my heart and attitude if I miss a couple of days in a row.  I need God all day, but especially in the early mornings before anyone else has woken up, so that I can spend time alone with Him and reading and studying His Word.

There’s also the principle of giving God your “first fruits.”  For anyone who has ever seriously studied the Bible, it’s apparent that God wants our best – and yes, that usually means we are required to sacrifice in order to give it to Him.  He wants our “first fruits.”

The first 10% of your pay (the normal tithe), the firstborn of your children (an Old Testament Jewish custom), the first day of the week devoted to Him (the Sabbath), even the first of the people’s grain (their food) was to be given to the Lord – before they were allowed to harvest anything for themselves!  It makes total sense that a woman’s early morning time should probably be first devoted to God, no matter when she wakes up. 🙂

In fact, Jesus Himself spent time alone with His Father early in the morning.  There’s something just very mysterious about that early morning time that even I can’t put my finger on.

 “AND IN THE MORNING, rising up a great while before the day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” — MARK 1:35

How to Survive in the Desert

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Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Is Marriage Really “Ugly?”

MARRIAGE IS NOT BEAUTIFUL

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“Marriage is ugly. You will spend the rest of your life seeing the absolute best and worst in someone. You will see them when they are mad, sad, stubborn, and so unlovable that they make you want to scream. You will witness parts of them no one will ever see but you. They will ignite all sorts of emotions that include anger, weeping, laughter and joy.

Marriage isn’t a beautiful thing, but it is amazing. It is knowing that someone loves you and won’t leave you even when you are being nasty. It is having someone who’s got your back no matter what. It is fighting over stupid things, falling asleep in each others arms, and feeling like there will never be enough time to spend together.

Marriage is the dirtiest, hardest, most rewarding job there is because at the end of the day you get to crawl into bed with your best friend, the weirdest, most annoying, loving, goofy, perfect person that you will ever know.

Marriage is not beautiful but it is quite an adventure!”

 

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I came across this online today, and kind of went “Huh?”

I get it that marriage has difficult moments because both the husband and wife are human (and sinners) and we just kind of have a human knack for selfishness… BUT it shouldn’t always feel ugly or be this way.

I know I’ve gotten criticized for being an envy inciter for posting happy pictures or talking about how good marriage can be, but perhaps it’s my optimism that helps me focus on the positives.  I would just never call marriage “ugly.”

To me, it really is beautiful.  Yes, even with the misunderstandings, or when dealing with an imperfect human… when you talk it out together, forgive each other and choose move on, it does feel beautiful.  Misunderstandings and working through problems can actually bring couples closer when they do it peacefully and keep the end goal in mind (of staying close together in oneness).

But I guess that would mean women need to take responsibility for their bad behavior in a marriage (or should I call it toxic femininity LOL?).

There are many behaviors that could make a woman (or a man) feel like marriage is indeed, ugly.  Especially their own marriage if these behaviors are present.

We really shouldn’t just allow ourselves as women to be “nasty,” toward our husbands.  That should be obvious.  And we shouldn’t allow ourselves to pick fights over “stupid” things.  There’s wisdom in bringing topics up in a peaceful way, or in choosing one’s battles.  Having a peaceful and loving attitude does wonders for maintaining a happy marriage.  This means you shouldn’t be so uptight with your husband that you make everything a fight.

I’m not saying that a wife will be able to never have moments of acting sinful toward her husband (“nasty” or fighting over stupid things), but when it does happen, there should be true repentance.  Letting your husband know you will try to not act like that again is also helpful in him forgiving you.  I do believe that with the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in a Christian woman’s life, a woman doesn’t have to fall into repeat patterns of “nastiness.”  Even a bad case of PMS shouldn’t make a woman feel the “freedom,” to lash out at her husband.  Because lashing out shouldn’t be a freedom.  And no, marriage shouldn’t be ugly.  

An adventure?  Yes, and I’d like to say it’s a good one to be on.

Happy Baby Girl

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All of us were sick a week ago, and we were just getting better this week.  I’ve actually never had all three children get THIS sick with a stomach bug all at the same time.  I had to set up the living room so they were all sleeping in easily accessible places so I could get to them in time.  Every 20 minutes one of them would start vomiting, and this went on for about 5 hours, so I just stayed out there with them, trying to sleep in between those 20 minutes.  Just seeing little ones throwing up and their whole little bodies being so sick and in so much pain was horrible.  Thank goodness it only lasted that one night, and then it was easy to care for them the next few days as they were so weak and exhausted.

It was crazy hard, and yet very sweet and bonding in unexpected ways. ❤

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We’ve been finding out that homeschooling is not a very glamorous production 😀 , teaching and school work and projects get done, learning gets done thankfully, but at least for us at this time, it’s priority number one.  This is a nice way of saying the rest of the house gets tentatively put on hold at times, until I can get to it, which is very frustrating for me.  Laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and put away.  Or dishes need to be done, those kind of things are looking to go a little by the wayside at times these days.

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Hopefully I can find more balance to teaching and getting housework done, soon.  But oh how the garden is calling 😀 and Spring is coming!!!!  We are definitely going to be doing mostly outdoor classes once the weather gets warmer.  The days already look just like Spring sometimes 🙂 and our kids love being outside.

 

So… while the kids were over their sickness (and we were getting it and getting over it) right about the time the lunar eclipse happened earlier this week, and with homeschooling, something like this is a MUST, nevermind me still being a little sick… it was totally worth it!

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We didn’t let our oldest stay up for all of it of course, but we let him stay up to see the beginning of the eclipse and to try to get some pictures.  I showed him how to take moon pictures, which can be tricky 🙂

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You can really see the eclipse starting… when we first went outside, we could see the entire full moon!  This was just so much fun to do with our son!

We’re all feeling better now, and so excited for sunnier weather 😀

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Thanks for reading ❤

Stephanie